The Best Semi-Truck Brands in Canada

The Best Semi-Truck Brands in Canada

Written by Bryan Daly
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated September 15, 2020

There are millions of different businesses all over the world that rely on semi-trucks to transport their products. Since these trucks often drive long distances through all kinds of roads and weather conditions, it’s important that buyers choose the right brands in order to avoid breakdowns and reduce as many costs as possible.

Are you interested in buying a semi-truck but worried that you won’t be able to find one that’s reliable enough? Keep reading to learn which semi-truck brand will work best for you. 

What Are The Best Semi-Truck Brands in Canada?

Before choosing a semi-truck to buy or lease, it’s essential to do some advanced research. Don’t just rely on word of mouth. Take time to compare a few different brands and consider all the most relevant details, including but not limited to:

  • Overall Cost
  • Fuel Type (diesel, electric, etc.) 
  • Gas Mileage
  • Engine Type & Size
  • Towing Capacity
  • Electrical & Mechanical Issues
  • Safety Concerns
  • Internal & External Design
  • Repairs & Maintenance 

Need some funding to repair your truck? Learn how you can use your assets to get the funding you need to repair your truck. 

Although there are many companies worldwide that produce reliable trucks of all calibres, here are the 5 top-rated semi-truck brands in Canada this year:


#1 – Peterbilt  

Based out of Denton, Texas, Peterbilt has been supplying North America with commercial trucks for more than 80 years. While they offer several classes, their heavy-duty trucks, such as their diesel-power engines, tend to be the most popular models and are often praised for being safer and more trustworthy than other makes.  

Features Peterbilt Trucks Are Known For:

  • As a subsidiary of PACCAR, most Peterbilt semi-trucks are equipped with a 13-litre, 500-horsepower engine that can crank out up to 1850 Nm of torque.
  • At the moment, you can find 16 kinds of electric Peterbilt truck models, any of which can help reduce emissions and fuel costs. 
  • Over-the-road truckers can rest easier and save on fuel with Peterbilt’s SmartAir feature, which keeps their sleeping cabin cool and well ventilated at all hours. 
  • Most 2020 Peterbilt models also feature a Smartling remote diagnostics system that alerts the driver to and even helps fix various mechanical issues. 

Pros of Peterbilt Semi-Trucks

  • They contain the best truck engines and parts on the market (PACCAR)
  • They have the longest average truck life of any other brand
  • Most models have a great resale value and warranties 
  • They experience fewer mechanical problems than other truck makes

Cons of Peterbilt Semi-Trucks

  • They can be a bit more expensive than other truck brands
  • Some models are less aerodynamic, leading to higher fuel consumption
Learn More

#2 – Kenworth

Since 1923, Kenworth has been engineering some of the world’s most highly rated Class 8 trucks. Based in Kirkland, Washington, they are also a subsidiary of PACCAR, so their trucks come with many of the same internal features and parts as those made by Peterbilt, allowing for smooth and comfortable cross-country drives.

Features Kenworth Trucks Are Known For:

  • Last year, Kenworth formed a partnership with Toyota to create ten Class 8 truck models powered by hydrogen fuel cells to produce zero emissions by 2020. 
  • Most new models feature a top tier multimedia infotainment and navigation system, so the driver won’t get bored or lost during a long-haul road trip.
  • Innovative powertrain technologies from PACCAR, as well as stainless steel parts, help their trucks hold up under all types of weather and road conditions.
  • Their Driver Assistance system ensures truckers will get where they’re going with less idling and fuel consumption, and can even help improve their driving habits. 

Pros of Kenworth Semi-Trucks 

  • Like Peterbilt, they contain the best PACCAR engines and parts on the market
  • They also have one of the longest average truck lives and resale value
  • Certain models have far more towing power than other brands 
  • They are more aerodynamic and fuel-efficient than a lot of other trucks 

Cons of Kenworth Semi-Trucks

  • Their interiors may be less spacious than other truck cabs
  • Some essential features are located on the dashboard and may distract drivers 

Check out how you can finance the truck you want through equipment financing.


#3 – Volvo

Although they produced their first truck in 1928, Volvo didn’t reach the North American truck market until 1959. However, that hasn’t stopped them from becoming one of the leading truck brands in Canada and the rest of the world, snatching up over 13% of the market in 2019. Their slick Swedish truck designs have truly become hard to beat.

Features Volvo Trucks Are Known For:

  • Most notably, Volvo semi-trucks are renowned for their luxurious construction, comfortable sleeping quarters, and extra amenities, such as reclining bunks. 
  • The new VNL model’s aerodynamic design and turbo compounding can help you save as much as 7.5% in fuel. Many Volvo models are now electric as well. 
  • I-Shift technology uses smart electronics to help the driver switch gears effortlessly, as well as monitor the truck’s grade, speed, engine load, and weight. 
  • Volvos are some of the safest semi-trucks on the road. In fact, they invented the three-point seat belt and the safety cab. They were also the first truck company to make ABS brakes and airbags standard to their designs.

Pros of Volvo Semi-Trucks

  • They are recognized for their space, luxury, and comforts
  • Their innovative technology and sleek design helps save on fuel
  • Their safety features and remote diagnostics system keeps the driver safe
  • The Fleet Management system allows fleet owners to monitor their trucks 24/7 

Cons of Volvo Semi-Trucks

  • Unfortunately, Volvo trucks are some of the most likely to break down
  • European parts are pricier and many mechanics aren’t accustomed to them
Learn More

Do you need a loan to start up your trucking business but have bad credit? Check out small business loans for people with bad credit


#4 – Freightliner 

Freightliner, a division of Daimler Trucks North America, has been making different sized commercial trucks for over 75 years and their origins can be traced back to 1929, where they started as a semi-tractor company in Portland, Oregon. Currently, they are the most popular semi-truck brand in the U.S. and are now expanding across Canada.

Features Freightliner Trucks Are Known For:

  • All trucks are equipped with an Integrated Detroit Powertrain, one of the best and most efficient powertrains on the market, making each truck a pleasure to drive. 
  • The sleeper and day cab models can run on natural gas, making them cleaner and more fuel-efficient than trucks that are powered by diesel fumes. 
  • Safety features include a camera mounted on the windshield and a radar system installed on the bumper, allowing for better uptime rates and fleet monitoring. 
  • Manufacturers offer Preventative Maintenance Plans, which provide routine inspections and maintenance that can be scheduled around your needs.

Pros of Freightliner Semi-Trucks

  • Detroit products give them better steering and handling than other trucks 
  • They have one of the largest dealer networks in North America
  • They offer a broader range of truck grades than other brands
  • Generally, their models are some of the cheapest on the market

Cons of Freightliner Semi-Trucks

  • Their engines aren’t great for long-term driving or long-haul trips
  • Certain models have been known to experience electrical problems

#5 – International 

The Navistar International Corporation is one of the longest-running commercial truck brands in North America, dating back to 1902. They are also a popular producer of motorhomes, step vans, and school/commercial buses. Additionally, Navistar engineers some of the best engines available for Class 5 and 6 trucks.  

Features International Trucks Are Known For:

  • The International Lonestar was designed in part by Harley-Davidson and comes with a 15-litre, 608 horsepower engine (one of the strongest on the market). 
  • Their trucks, parts, and products are sold by more than 60 dealers in 90 countries worldwide, including Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.
  • Newer models are equipped with their Diamond Logic security and diagnostics system, which has almost 200 different safety and efficiency features.
  • Many different classes and customizations are available, so you can build your own truck if you prefer something more than a basic factory model.

Pros of International Semi-Trucks

  • Their financing plans include a no-payments for 6 months policy
  • Their trucks have a broad range of customizable parts and accessories 
  • Their company has one of the widest dealer/manufacturer networks in the world
  • They offer some of the most powerful commercial engines of any truck brand

Cons of International Semi-Trucks

  • Some older models have experienced electrical and mechanical problems
  • Many fleet owners and clients have complained about poor customer service

Looking For The Best Semi-Truck Financing Options? 

Loans Canada can help match you with a lender that specializes in truck and equipment financing, regardless of the type of truck you’re looking for.

Rating of 4/5 based on 6 votes.

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and travelling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer.

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